September 6, 2011

Change Starts With You

When you observe something in need of improvement, change, correction, or elimination and take no action – you have accepted the status quo and relinquished your right to complain about it. 

Years ago I worked for a manager that would challenge me to be accountable for anything that I observed was, in my view, not functioning or working properly.  Whenever I would walk into his office with a complaint or observation, he had two standard responses which, at first, frustrated me until I got it.  Response number one was “thanks for sharing, is there a request in there?”  Response number two was “if it is important enough for you to share with me your feelings on this matter, I would expect it would be important enough for you to do something about it.”  Needless to say, I recognized early on my accountability for taking action on those issues or opportunities that I felt needed fixing.

We are all here to put our energies and gifts to work to improve, inspire, educate, and change.  Each one of us brings a unique ability to the challenges in our lives, in our jobs, in the lives of our friends, and in the lives of those around us.  Choosing to do nothing in the face of what we observe as “broken” is not using our abilities and skills as they were designed.  While we may not be able to single handedly solve the local problems in our world, selecting the option not to do anything is not serving or helping anyone; and, it renders our ability to complain moot.  For if you have the energy to complain, you have the energy to be part of the solution.

When I share these concepts with people, it makes many a little uncomfortable.  First, many do not recognize or believe in their ability to influence change or improvement.  Second, many do not like to be held accountable for taking action on issues that would rather point out to others.  The key to dealing with this discomfort is to become more comfortable with the skills we have been blessed with to inspire and lead change.

When we observe a situation, policy or circumstance that is out of place, we automatically make the assumption that it is both apparent and important to others.  Because of how we are wired, trained, and raised there is a high likelihood that it is our unique skill sets that make this issue and its solution more obvious only to us.  Pointing it out and walking on by does nothing to fix the problem, for no one sees it as we do.  Making a commitment to fixing, correcting and eliminating the problem is why we were able to see it in the first place.  Using our skills to its fullest abilities requires that we cannot ignore or complain about it, we must be committed to being part of the solution.  Anyone can complain, blame or detach from any issue – it takes a strong, focused, and aware person to actually step up and do something about it.

Next time you do not feel empowered or invested enough to solve a problem that hits you square in the face remember, it hit you in the face for a reason; and, if you decide to do nothing, you gave up your right to complain.  Make a difference, leverage your unique skills and abilities, and embrace the opportunity to make a difference – the world, or at least your little part of it, needs you.

About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.